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By Lília

All good things must come to an end. And so, we say goodbye to our ABC Staff Picks on YouTube.

Thanks to everyone who watched us over the years. A big thanks to hosts Luke and Iris and all our expert booksellers who have given their recommendations so consistently.

Although this is our last blog post taken from the show, we are still here with news, recommendations, Staff Picks and, of course, our Top 5 at the end of the year. Happy reading!

leaders eat last

Luke suggests Dutch Mountain Trail by Toon Hezemans.

“The English edition, of course. (There’s a Dutch edition as well.) It’s about the Seven Summits, for people who think there are no mountains in the Netherlands. But they do have them, between Belgium and Germany. They are not very high but have nice trails to trek on. It’s a great activity for summer. And the book has a nice format, allowing you to take it with you during a hike.”

He also recommends Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi and Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek, two books he read during vacation.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold is one of our favorite titles, and Luke now understands why: “It’s an easy read. It’s well-written and the twists are light, but it’s also emotional. So, very good. And it made me interested in the other books in the series.”

Simon Sinek is mostly known for his title Start With Why and has just released Leaders Eat Last. “Why do some teams pull together and others don’t?” It’s an interesting question and the book talks about trust in groups.

Luke says: “In this book, I’m highlighting the parts that impact me most, and even though many people are against writing in books, there are so many interesting comments in it that I needed to highlight them all. Such as: ‘You must know your people and that they are much more than just an expendable resource.’ They sound like really good reminders.”


Lília came up with A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall and says: “I just finished this book, and I loved it. What I liked the most is the insight into the head of a trans woman in a time when there was no operation to be had, how she fights for herself and her freedom to be who she really is. I also love the people around her, how they accept not only her but all that she represents. Most of all, her love interest is a wonderful character, perfectly imperfect and ever-loving. It’s a lesson in acceptance and understanding and fighting for the freedom to be whoever you are.”

It’s a particularly timely message.


Matty, one of our new Amsterdam colleagues, chose A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.

According to Matty: “It’s one of the most impactful books I’ve ever read. Not really the easiest read, but so worth it! The story is about the consequences of political changes on real people, and how little changing times care for people. It is set in India after the country’s independence from Britain, and there are lessons for everyone, especially now. Unforgettable.”

A relevant read for the turbulent times we’re living in.


Emma, who loves everything fairy and witchy, recommends Fairy Poems, a wide-ranging and appealingly fairy-sized treasury of fantastical poems from across the centuries and around the globe.

She says: “I love this book because I’m so fond of Fairy Lore, and this collection spans fairy poems from many different decades and authors. I find them very enchanting and inspiring. They have fun chapters like fairy mischief and malevolence or queer fairies, some are whimsical, some are romantic or melancholic. It is also perfect for when you don’t have the time or the energy to read a whole book.”

The little collections are quite nice because they give you a taste of everything, especially concerning poetry. The whole book may not be for you, but if you get a bit of everything, you can dip in and out to see what speaks to you.

As the buyer for the poetry section in The Hague, Iris also loves the Everyman editions. “They are really cute, with all their illustrations and colors, and it’s nice to have a little row of them on the shelves.”

She also loves how poetry is getting more popular with the more modern poets of our times, which make the section also more popular. “Poetry can be fascinating, and it is a great boost to see it being visited more and having people also trying different things.”


Jeroen always has interesting recommendations, and this time he suggests Revolusi by David Van Reybrouck, an original Flemish title translated into English.

Jeroen says: “New book by the author of Congo, it’s about the decolonization of Indonesia after World War II. It’s a masterful mixture of oral history, with interviews from people who are now in their 90s and lived through it. It also features the history of travel at the time and written histories. Just excellent.”

It makes us think of Russell Shorto’s  Amsterdam, which tells the story of New York in a very inviting way. Of course, Revolusi tells a grittier history than Amsterdam. It is history, but also storytelling, and you can’t help but get involved.


Sophie recommends Geometries of Belonging by R.B. Lemberg, part of the Ursula Le Guin Prize shortlist for 2023.

She says: “I love when an author has so completely thought out their imaginary world that I feel like I could live in it. Lamberg’s Birdverse is an amazing, deep, complex fantasy world where some people can access personal magic, but many can’t. It’s told in stories, letters and poems, so there are different formats included in this collection, and they are all part of this Birdverse. I was blown away by the style, the fantasy and the touch of humor often included. Each story opened a whole new area of the world and new characters fully flashed out: magical craftspeople, shape-shifting, professors, non-magical folks yearning to be seen as equal. I can’t wait to dive into the other Birdverse titles.”


Red Rising by Peirce Brown is another recommendation by a new colleague, even though it’s not a new book.

Else says: “I’m literally finishing the third book in this series today, and it is fast-paced, intense science fiction. In a society divided into different color classes, the low colors – the reds – are not content with being glorified slaves. So they plan to rise up. I’m really enjoying the books. They grip you and do not let go until you’ve finished them. I’ve heard the first book described as The Hunger Games in space, but it’s so much more than that! Although the space part is pretty cool. It gives you an idea of what it might be, but it’s not exactly that.”

Red Rising is the first in the series; the sixth installment, Light Bringer, was released in 2023.


Iris loves Nghi Vo and recommends the new title The Brides of High Hill, part 5 of a series of novellas that form The Singing Hills Cycle. “I read the first one and liked it a lot, so I read them all, and when The Brides of High Hill came out, I grabbed it and took it home right away. This one is a bit darker and more sinister than the other titles in the series. They all have a similar vibe and are full of heart, but they also have their own stories, which can be read separately. The Empress of Salt and Fortune is still my favorite, because it introduced me to this world, but this last installment is also really good.”